Want More Sales? Sell Your Software Like It's Wrapping Paper

Way back before I was RajNATION and simply 'little Rajiv' in elementary school:

 
okay maybe this is a little too young but the point is I used to be cute

okay maybe this is a little too young but the point is I used to be cute

 

every fall we had an assembly where this outside school fundraising group named Innisbrook would come talk to us about how our ‘cool’ factor could increase with the latest boombox, or a sleek-looking Wilson duffel bag we could take to baseball/softball practice.

Or they’d talk up how we could have ‘sour face’ battles with our friends by opening a pack of candy Warheads and seeing who could keep a straight face the longest.

We could crush at Pogs with the latest slammer (can you tell yet that I am the poster child of the 90s here?), or even experience hallowed ground in having a free McDonald’s lunch (little Rajiv loved his McNuggets) WITH our school Principal.

Innisbrook told us some of this, all of this, or potentially even more could be ours. All we had to do was go out and sell wrapping paper as a fundraising project for the school. And only the top sellers got that McDonald’s lunch with Principal Diehl.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but they were turning students into salespeople, and this was probably my first go in life at selling.

The prizes sounded awesome. I went door-to-door in my neighborhood and sold a few orders to houses I knew. But little Rajiv saw that door-to-door was an inefficient method on its own.

For one, my parents only let me walk by myself a certain distance away from our home, probably 3 blocks in any direction. So my customer base was limited. Plus, other kids on the block were hitting houses too. Sometimes I’d ring a doorbell and they’d say “oh you’re so sweet! We love this wrapping paper but we already bought from Jennifer”--Fucking Jennifer.

And on top of that, I only had the 1-2 hours after school to actually go knocking. My time was limited.

So I did what any smart 3rd grader does in a situation like this…

“MOM! DAD! Can you take this order form to work and ask your coworkers to buy stuff?!”

Yes, my parents became my sales team. While I was at school learning about Christopher Columbus (1997 was a time when we largely ignored how awful of a human being he actually was), they were at work pulling in orders on my behalf.

In this story, my parents were Superconnectors -- a person, hub, or entity connected to, and who have aggregated, many of MY target customers in one place.

Your startup is exactly like little Rajiv. You’re looking for customers, you’re probably doing your own outbound selling, but you’re limited by time, reach, and competition. You could benefit tremendously from Superconnector relationships.

Whether it’s your first 10 customers, or your second 1,000, Superconnectors can accelerate your sales and customer count beyond your own time, reach, and competition. This is a great way to build your hype.

They can either sell on your behalf, or give you access to their base in some way. Access could be a speaking slot at an event, guest writing to their email list, featuring you on their platform, direct referrals, etc.

But how do you do create these relationships?

In the case of Little Rajiv And The Innisbrook Wrapping Paper, there were

The 3 Key Factors In Play For The Superconnector Relationship To Work:

  1. There had to be incentive for me to want to sell wrapping paper. The cool factor and related prizes based on performance was basically my commission.

  2. My parents had to have an incentive to promote/sell on my behalf. Their incentive was helping their son succeed, helping their son’s school raise money to improve their son’s education, and probably some degree of bragging rights to other parents.

  3. Selling to their audience did not conflict in any way with what they were already doing, AND the timing made sense to where they didn't feel awkward bringing it up. My parents don't otherwise sell wrapping paper, so I was clear there. And this was Fall--wrapping paper is basically only needed in bulk quantity around the holidays, so in September/October it's an end user who is already in, or close to, their buying cycle.

Figuring Out YOUR Startup's Superconnectors

Before you determine WHO would make a good Superconnector for your growing company, first determine your position in The 3 Factors:

  1. Your Incentive: Your incentive is obviously you and your team’s livelihood and will to achieve your vision...but consider if you have team members, does better performance = better incentive?

  2. Their Incentive: Money is obvious, but the Superconnector's incentive doesn’t HAVE to be monetary compensation. It just has to make them look good. Depending on your brand, they could look good via:

    • status by affiliation with you

    • an agreement for cross-promotion

    • you providing added value to their audience (thereby improving the market’s perception of them, showing they are there for their customers beyond the transaction, and potentially advertently or inadvertently enabling their customers to spend more money with them)

      What incentive can you offer them?

  3. Conflict & Timing: Ensure that what you have is ancillary to their offering -- it does not step on their toes. As for timing, is their audience in a buying cycle? Can you align with an event they have coming up that could use extra promotion? I literally did this last week with a group where I've received admission to their upcoming conferences for free in exchange for promoting them here and on Linkedin--you'll be hearing about VentureSCALE and Sales Assembly Annual very soon.

When you figure out your position in these 3 factors, you’ll know what types of Superconnectors make sense, which then narrows your search for WHO to connect with.

For Startup Hypeman, a great Superconnector example is Bunker Labs. We have a relationship of respect and trust. We’re a mentor for their network of entrepreneurs, providing knowledge in an area they don't formally provide on their own. We’ve built up enough trust and thought-leadership within that network via presentations and mentor sessions to where people ask how they can work with us.

This Superconnector has resulted in EIGHT clients since January 2017, including some of our best work and favorite people to work with, like FanFood.

The lesson here for your startup? Think more like a 3rd grader.

Little Rajiv finished as a Top 10 seller (I think I got 3rd overall). That meant a McNuggets lunch with Principal Diehl and the other Top 10. Now, I really wanted that boombox, but somehow my parents convinced me to get the Wilson duffel bag instead. They must have been thinking about the noise, and duffel bags certainly can’t blast Jock Jams Vol. 2 on repeat.

And you’re not gonna believe this, because I hardly can, but I’m writing this while visiting my parents...look what I just found crumpled in the back of my old bedroom closet:

 
 

I guess it has more staying power than the boombox would have? Fucking Wilson.


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Rajiv NathanComment